1: Earth Slow
2: Slave (Self Promoted)
3: Sun Machine> No Bass Jam> Sun Machine>
5: Chrissy Reid
6: Color In Bloom
7: Wrong Side
8: Down Under
9: Fallen> Bass and Drum Groove> Fallen
10: Beneath The Cover
11: Rush Hour Traffic>
12: Casa de Vino>
13: Light Up Or Leave Me Alone>
14: Rush Hour Traffic
15: Soul Sister
16: Open Up>
17: The Now
18: encore break
I logged a lot of miles seeing Percy Hill between 1995 and their last 4-piece show on a boat in NYC in 2005, and smack in the middle of those 10 years might be my favorite show of them all. Rich Schaefer (the MC for the show) invited me up to his fraternity house for the show. Was I really up for a two hour drive for the show? The weather kinda sucked? Going solo. What the hell else do I have to do?
I get to the show and someone’s there asking for invitations. The guy in front of me says, “I’m on the list…Vinnie Amico.” That would be the drummer for moe. Figured I’d try the same thing. Seemed to work. I walk in and the band is set up in one room and the soundboard is in another room, barely able to see the band. I plug into the board, and away we go.
Earth Slow – silky smooth instrumental setting the mood for the evening. I love hearing the atmospheric feedback and sustain that Joe uses to fill space. That is something that I find most jamband players aren’t very good at…knowing when to NOT play a lot of notes.
Slave (Self-Promote) – Now that the mood has been set…let’s get funky. Never really a vehicle for extended jamming, so it’s pretty standard, but does its job.
Sun Machine – Sure, I write simply “Sun Machine”, but this is the furthest thing from a standard Sun Machine. Clocking in at 19 minutes. At about the 10 minute mark, when it would typically culminate, the band shifts gears. Joe and John drop out, Nate starts a funky little melody/rhythm on the Moog, while Aaron mixes up the beat a tad. John comes back in on using the Moog bass pedals set atop his bass-rig. After a minute, Joe comes back in and the band is locked in this completely different type of jam than I’ve ever heard them do. The jam lasts about 7 minutes and is the first indication that this will not be the usual Percy Hill show.
Jasper – A shout out to the host of the party. One of the few tunes that is a Joe showcase. A much needed break from the last tune.
Chrissy Reid – Another one played pretty standard.
Color in Bloom – I know what you’re thinking…way to slow for a party. Well, this is instrumental, at about twice the typical speed, and rocks out for over 27 minutes. Rather than vocals, Joe plays the vocal melody on the guitar. At about 5:00, Aaron shifts the beat to a more funky beat, not quite as aggressive as Alan Evans of Soulive, but we’ve definitely turned a corner here. This eventually morphs into a techno-like Invisible Sun jam. Things get REALLY weird at 11:30. Headphones would be good here…or anything with great stereo separation. Nate gets spacey on the Moog. At about 19:00, Color in Bloom reappears. A couple more direction shifts in the jam and it’s off to set break. Again…lots of Percy shows and nothing anywhere close to this.
At this point, I’m thinking –Slave, Sun Machine, and Chrissy Reid…those are kinda the big three at this point of their career…you’d be hard pressed to not see those three…but not in the first 5 songs. Bookended by two wild instrumentals. And now they’re taking a break? What are they leaving in the tank?
Well, after some genius pulled a fire alarm, we all got spend some quality time out in the January cold…awesome!
Set two – what’s left in the tank.
Wrong Side – To me, this was a favorite from the first time I heard it played. There was time that I was listening to quite of bit of Pat Metheny, and the Nate’s Moog solo section is reminiscent of some Pat Metheny, even the “Fall with me” vocal style has some Metheny stylings. Ok, this is a good start.
Down Under – Well, I was never a fan. If you like it, enjoy.
Fallen – Similar to Sun Machine in that I’d seen them play it for years, but not like this. Aaron starts the beat…and John and Joe leave the stage. What the hell? Really? Well, it takes about a minute for Nate to come in and within 30 seconds, it’s clear that things are taking a turn for the strange. Nate takes to being a knob turning freak on the Moog. Joe comes in at the 4:00 minute mark. Aaron takes a stab at shifting away from Fallen, but that breaks down as Nate grabs the flute and we’re ready for Fallen…and it never lets up. Smoking from beginning to end.
Beneath the Cover – While another Joe guitar vehicle, it does offer a much needed breather and sticks pretty close to standard.
Now comes my favorite part of the show…and something I always felt they could do well, but never did…shifting seamlessly from one song to another. Whether you call it a true segue or not is up to you.
Rush Hour Traffic – again like some other tunes, it starts off standard enough. Then at two minutes, things shift a bit. It’s still Rush Hour, but it must be Rush Hour in a different city, or a different road. At 3 minutes comes a great segment that incorporates the Rhodes, the Moog Pedals, great rhythm work by Joe. It’s all there. One of the few tunes where Nate plays old school Rhodes and Hammond. He’d been leaning on the Moog a lot this show. He turns back a few pages here, but the jam is great. I remember standing right in front of Nate during this. Freakin’ tremendous. 7:30 mark…almost sounds like Watcher of the Skies by Genesis…oh…we’re heading to Casa De Vino. Interesting!! But like everything else this night, they’re in no hurry.
Casa de Vino – Ok. Slave’s been played. Othello…doubt it.
Light Up or Leave Me Alone – Are you kidding? I’m not the biggest fan of Nate’s voice (sorry), but he nails this. Joe’s wha-wha playing is spot on. Really, there’s nothing in this tune that isn’t spot on…including the uploaded copy, which proves to me that something did get screwed up when I transferred this a year ago for CD burning. I lost a chunk of Joe’s guitar solo, which I’m glad to hear completely. At the 5:30 mark, this begins to resemble Rush Hour, but then they break it down to the Light Up ending perfectly…then BAM!! Seeing is worth believing!!
Rush Hour Traffic – Wow…did I just see that. Rush Hour>>Casa>>Light Up>>Rush Hour!! Just shy of 25 minutes. Phew.
Soul Sister – Interesting. This, like Ammonium Maze is an Aaron song, originally sung by Joe, then later sung by Aaron. A little mellowness after the previous mayhem. Not really much more to say about it. I mean, when Rush Hour ended, I was thinking that that would be the end of the show. So much for that.
Open Up – Show still not ending…not by a long shot. Another funky/airy instrumental. At the 9:00 mark, there is a melody line that Nate plays with that reminds me of Island of Souls from Sting’s Soul Cages album. The riff is faster than the Sting song, but it for some reason reminds me of that. Just after the 13:00 mark, Nate starts riffing on Beethoven’s 9th (Ode to Joy)…odd as that seems. This tune might have just been thrown in to keep the night moving. While interesting, I fear that the show might be losing some steam.
The Now – Another Joe (future Aaron) song. I always found it interesting how interchangeable their voices were. Similar range, different subtleties. Back to more of a standard Percy groove for the show closer.
Encore – 313…I swear the only reason they played it was because it was about 3:13 when the show. Ended.
I do remember going out for breakfast after this show, coming back and it was well past 4:00. I think that I try to get some sleep there, which was completely impossible. By 7:00, I think I was back on the road home. Not sure how I made it. What it worth it? Hell yes is was! I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I did.